IOC member Luis Alberto Moreno has claimed Rio de Janeiro is "better off" after hosting the 2016 Olympic Games ©Getty Images

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Luis Alberto Moreno has claimed Rio de Janeiro is "better off" after hosting the 2016 Olympic Games, despite the ongoing political and economic problems in Brazil.

The Colombian, who is President of the Inter-American Development Bank, insists that Rio 2016 did not cause the issues currently facing the South American nation.

Economic problems are continuing as the State Government battles with bankruptcy in the midst of ongoing corruption investigations.

In this context, many of the Olympic venues still sit empty and dilapidated while organisers have still failed to pay off debts.

Moreno claims, however, that bringing the Games to Rio "has provided a number of bright spots of progress in an otherwise difficult situation".

"Even before the Opening Ceremony, the Games directly or indirectly created thousands of badly needed jobs," he said in a message to Yonhap News Agency, citing a study which reports that per capita income in Rio increased by over 30 per cent between 2009 and 2016, more than any other city in Brazil.

"At least 1,000 small and micro enterprises (MSEs) benefited from an initiative to integrate them into Games-related projects, giving these emerging companies access to more commercial opportunities, additional expertise and visibility.

"This programme is still being run independently by Sebrae, a Brazilian support organisation for MSEs, which is using its Games experience to integrate small companies into the supply chains of larger ones."

Moreno, a former Colombian ambassador to the United States, claims the use of public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects has created a benchmark for "one of the most far-reaching Games legacies". 

"Private entities financed about 57 per cent of Games infrastructure, which allowed each Brazilian Real invested by the authorities to generate additional benefits for the city," he told Yonhap.

"The Games also accelerated job-generating public investments in transport improvements that have already added over 170 kilometres of subway, light rail and bus rapid transit lines.

"These projects continue to benefit Rio commuters and visitors every day."

The legacy of Rio 2016, including the post-Games use of venues at the Olympic Park in Barra de Tijuca, has repeatedly come under question ©Getty Images
The legacy of Rio 2016, including the post-Games use of venues at the Olympic Park in Barra de Tijuca, has repeatedly come under question ©Getty Images

IOC President Thomas Bach claimed earlier this month, on the one-year anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of Rio 2016, that Brazil should be given more time to deliver the promised legacy benefits.

He argued that it is unfair to criticise organisers for so far failing to meet legacy commitments given "the extremely difficult situation in Brazil which is the worst crisis the country has ever gone through".

The German used 2012 hosts London as an example of how much time was needed to deliver the benefits of hosting an Olympic Games.

The anniversary celebrations in Brazil were overshadowed by continuing chaos in Rio de Janeiro after 8,500 soldiers were deployed to the streets of the city in an attempt to quell escalating violence.

Bach's stance continues the approach the IOC have adopted since the end of Rio 2016 of downplaying the legacy problems in public.

In private, however, more concerns are being expressed and it is notable that the IOC have now insisted that they will not provide organisers with any more money to help settle debts.

A report published last month by a Federal Agency responsible for Olympic legacy stated that the Games budget had increased to BRL$43.3 billion (£10.6 billion/$13.7 billion/€11.5 billion) - around BRL$14.5 billion (£3.6 billion/$4.6 billion/€3.8 billion) more than originally planned.

Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman has also defended the Olympic legacy and insisted that the event was a good use of public money.

Others, though, have been far more critical and insisted that money would have been better spent on improvements to health, education and other areas.

There has been some improvement, including the official opening of Carioca Arena 3, one of the venues used last year in the Olympic Park at Barra de Tijuca, to the Brazilian public in May.

But deadlines to fully re-open the two Olympic Parks in Barra and Deodoro have been repeatedly missed.

Wider legacy benefits, including a bid-time commitment to treat water pollution on Guanabara Bay by 80 per cent, have also been missed while many apartments on the former Athletes' Village site in Barra remain unsold.

This comes alongside continuing corruption probes connected to venue construction and the city's successful bid for the Games in 2009.

"It's also worth remembering that many people doubted Brazil's ability to host a successful Olympic Games," Moreno added.

"Brazil overcame many obstacles and proved the skeptics wrong, with Games that not only delivered spectacular competition, but also showcased the country's magnificent spirit.

"It will take time and a strong will to see it through, but I am confident that Brazil will prove the skeptics wrong again."